From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
April 4, 2008

Senator West announces new state law to fight metals theft

DALLAS -- State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) will join forces with Dallas Police, state and city officials and scrap metal yard owners to announce the implementation of new state law to address the epidemic rise in thefts of regulated metals (copper, brass, bronze, aluminum). The news conference will take place Friday, April 11, 2008 at the Jack Evans - Dallas Police Headquarters - Media Conference Room - located at 1400 S. Lamar St. The time is 9:00 am.

"We began work on this legislation with Dallas Police in early 2006 due to the outcry of citizens and businesses owners, many continuously victimized by thieves. Their air conditioning units were being stolen, construction projects were raided for building supplies and there seemed to be no end in sight," said Senator West. "While the problem was not well-defined at the start of session, this legislative remedy soon gained widespread and bipartisan support. But it will still take a team effort if we are to deter a form of crime that costs its victims in terms of money and frustration."

The new state law is modeled from a City of Dallas ordinance passed in 2006. Since that time, Dallas police have assigned a squad to work with metal yard owners in patrolling metals thefts.

During the 2007 session of the Texas Legislature, Senator West authored SB642. The bill employed a comprehensive approach to combating regulated metals thefts by creating a statewide electronic database, limiting public operation hours, restricting the sale of certain items by the general public and created statewide "hold" guidelines so that purchased regulated items can be inspected by police. SB642 did not pass, but was rolled into SB1154 by Senator John Carona, (R- Dallas) a bill that strengthened identification requirements for sellers and increased criminal penalties for buyers and sellers of stolen goods. SB1154 passed into law effective Sept. 1, 2007.

"The new statewide database established by SB1154 will be maintained by the Department of Public Safety," said Dallas' Chief of Police David Kunkle. "This will provide yet another tool for law enforcement to use in dealing with those who buy and sell stolen metals."

One of SB1154's most crucial components, the statewide database will soon go into effect. It will help law enforcement to detect patterns of persons who frequently sell restricted items of questionable origin. The bill also requires all scrap metal vendors to register with the state. The legislation has the support of the scrap metal industry and has now been modeled in other parts of the country.